Whenever multi gyms are mentioned, the word ‘Bowflex’ is often not too far behind. If you are not familiar with the name, it spans back to 1986, when the now iconic fitness brand launched their innovative 2000X strength trainer.
Bowflex remains a key player in the multi gym market, offering both affordable and premium home gyms, ranging from big and beautiful to neat and compact.
Today’s featured model – the PR3000 – slots nicely into the latter category. If you are on the hunt for a high-performance multi gym that you can fit comfortably into your living room, this one is worth a closer look…
The PR3000 may be one of our top picks when it comes to the best compact home gyms, although it’s certainly not the smallest multi gym on the market. Look towards something from Total Gym, or ‘gym in a box’ style units such as the BodyBoss Home Gym 2.0, if you want something you can store in a closet.
However, unlike the smaller selection, the PR3000 offers an all-round solid experience on a familiar gym-style setup. It may not have the familiar weight stack (more on this below), but you can safely categorize this unit as a traditional multi gym.
With relatively compact dimensions when in use – 96” (L) x 78” (W) x 83” (H) – this is a unit that would comfortably fit into many scenarios. This could be as your sole workout station in the corner of your living room, or alongside a good treadmill and pullup station in a more substantial garage gym.
The base and spine of the PR3000 is made from a heavy-duty steel, with the resistance at the rear of the unit and a high, middle and low pulley system just in front.
Extending from this central column is your bench, where the majority of your workout will take place. However, unlike many other Bowflex models, this bench is removable – or, at least, the lower part is. This space-saving design allows you to remove the bench and stand in its place to perform standing exercises.
The height of the bench seat is adjustable, so when you are using it you can find a decent fit for your body size. On that note, the bench will take users of up to 300lbs, so it’s a sturdy unit that’s built to last.
While the PR3000 offers some of the features that you would find on a traditional multi gym, there is no weight stack. Instead, you will find a set of Bowflex’s proprietary Power Rods. These are composite poles that bend as you pull to create resistance.
Each rod has its own resistance – 5lbs, 10lbs, and so on. You can work with one rod for lighter loads or combine multiple if you want to go heavier.
Considering each side offers 105lbs in total, the max resistance for this machine is 210lbs. However, unlike some cheaper Bowflex models, this resistance can be upgraded to 310lbs, with space for an extra two 50lb rods (sold separately).
As we have mentioned, this gym makes use of a high and low pulley system, along with a pair of middle pulleys. This middle pulley doesn’t appear on cheaper machines and offers more versatility in the range of movements you can perform.
The other benefit is that this multi gym needs no cable changes between sets, so you can hop from one movement to another with little hassle. If you are following a set routine or want to keep your heart rate high, this is a big plus.
Talking about workout plans, the spine of the PR3000 is fitted with an informative placard detailing a selection of key movements you can perform on the unit. With more than 50 on offer, not every single exercise is highlighted, but it’s a useful tool when you are in the middle of a workout and need some inspiration.
So, what exactly can you do on the PR3000? Despite its small footprint, you can actually perform more than 50 exercises, which is almost double the amount that you can do on the more affordable Bowflex PR1000, which offers around 30.
Starting with your legs, the bench is fitted with a seated leg developer with padded rollers, allowing you to perform leg extensions and curls. This is ideal for working your legs – just be sure to add in some bodyweight squats (perhaps using a good pair of dumbbells) to develop your athleticism.
Sitting on the bench naturally also allows you to use the middle pulleys to perform a vertical chest press and chest flyes, as well as offering means to work your abs – simply keep the multi-grip nylon handles close to your chest and perform weighted crunches. Stand up and you have the option to perform a trunk twist.
The lat tower with its high pulley system allows you to work both your back and arms, with movements including the lat pulldown and triceps pulldown. Meanwhile, the low pulley system is key for performing shoulder presses, upright rows and bicep curls, as well as standing calf raises to work those often-forgotten leg muscles!
As for the resistance, a max of 210lbs is a solid load for general fitness users and certainly good enough for smaller muscle groups – biceps, triceps, shoulder isolation and abs.
However, it is a bit limiting for those wanting to gain strength in their legs, chest and back. Doing high reps with a lighter weight can only get you so far. As mentioned, you can upgrade the overall resistance to 310lbs, although this will still be too light for some.
The other problem, which is apparent on any Bowflex machine using Power Rods, is that the rods tend to lose their resistance over time – so lifting 210lbs now may not be the same as lifting that amount a year or two down the line. This can be remedied by buying an official Power Rod Rejuvenator, or by replacing the rods.
Another slight shame is that there is no aerobic rowing function, like you would find on the cheaper PR1000. This is largely down to the compact size, so if this kind of feature is useful to you, check out the PR1000 instead.